I've not been at my best in terms of providing you with frequent updates as of late, so with my favourite PPV, The Royal Rumble, less than a forntight away, I thought I'd give you a little treat.
So here, starting with 1993, are some reviews of Rumbles through the ages. I probably won't have time to get through them all, but sporadically over the next two weeks I'll post my thoughts looking back through the history of this great event.
Its 1993, it’s Gorilla and the Brain, and its the Arco Arena.
It’s the Royal Rumble, and we’re kicking off with The Steiner Brother against the Mullet twins, dah, I mean The Beverly Brothers, who seem to be sans Genius this year.
Scott Steiner, at this point, was an ordinary looking, talented individual and not the genetic (yeah, right) freak that he is now. The Steiners were a great team back then, with two individual looks, so quite a step up for the Beverlys considering they had the Bushwhackers for opponents the year before.
Hey, I’ve just noticed the referee is Fonzie. I have nothing to followed that up with, but that’s who the ref is. Wow, what a start to this recap. Hooked, ain’t ya?
The Steiners, at this point, had only been in the WWF for about 6 weeks, so this was basically a showcase outing for them. With this in mind, it wasn’t a great match, although the obvious result occurred, with both men hitting some stiff looking clotheslines and suplexes, Rick collecting the hot tag and cleaning house, before Scott hit the Frankensteiner and boy did the Beverly brother (I don’t know which is which) land square on his head.
Steiners win, and the obligatory face win to open the show is over.
Up next is Marty Janetty v Shawn Michaels for the IC title, a feud over a year in the making. It was a year in the making, though, because Janetty was supposed to work the injury inflicted on him in a episode of Brutus Beefcake’s barber shop, but managed to get himself fired before the payoff at Wrestlemania VIII.
Janetty returned in late 1992, and reignited the feud, and here at the Rumble we see a recap of Janetty’s return, which was fantastically well done. A great camera shows Michaels see Marty in a mirror Sensational Sherri was holding up for him. Marty knocks Shawn down, swings the mirror and Shawn pulls Sherri in front of him to take the blow.
It was a great build up to this match, and we kick off with Sherri wandering to ringside, in no-one’s corner in particular. Jannetty is out first, and appeared to put his ring gear through an industrial shredder before he went through the curtain.
The match is underway, and it’s all Janetty in the early going. He looked so different when Kennedy brought him out on Raw. Oh it wasn’t him? Really? Had me fooled.
Anyway, Michaels takes over, puts Janetty on his shoulder and runs him into the ring post on the outside. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that move actually hit apart from on this occasion.
They work the arm convincingly for quite some time. Another thing you don’t see that often, and Jannety does a good job of selling it. He gets the inevitable comeback, including a pretty cool suplex to the outside, and Sherri blasts Michaels to show her allegiance. Marty pounds away, and we have a couple of really close near falls, until referee Joey Marella takes a bump. Hmm, a Morella who gets easily beaten down. Something else that you don’t see.......oh wait, we do have that now.
Sherri comes in, high heel in hand like a drunk ladette on a Friday night, and swings at Shawn. She misses and levels Marty, so Shawn tells her off. He lifts Marty into position, nails the superkick, and Marty takes a ridiculous twisting bump. Shawn gets 3 and Sherri runs off in tears.
Gene tries to get a word with Sherri, and even starts to tell her off. The bloke who you tried to smack with a shoe, fine. But Mean Gene? How embarrassing is that? Anyway, Shawn confronts her, but gets jumped by Janetty. This feud lasted ages......one more day, in fact, when Janetty turned up for Raw drunk.
He came back during the year, and although he had a short IC title run and held the tag belts with the 123 Kid (X-Pac), he never lived up to his potential. This is a great shame, because watching the match we have just seen, he was a decent worker who was over.
Inventive theme music time as Bam Bam Bigelow comes out to the strains of........a fella saying Bam Bam over and again.
Boss Man is the opponent, and Bigelow jumps him early. Standard big man fare, but to be fair both of these men could go, and were pretty athletic. Certainly a damn sight more interesting than seeing Mark Henry or Big Daddy V.
Gorilla calls Bam Bam “not that bright”, because apparently saying ‘lateral collateral’ rather than just ‘knee’ makes you a bloody Mensa member.
Bam Bam nails a flying headbutt from the top, and this one is over .Gorilla calls it an impressive win, but that’s only if you consider 4 minutes of rest holds impressive.
Footage of Razor Ramon attacking Owen Hart is shown, before Gorilla says that Owen Hart literally got creamed. I don’t even want to think about what being ‘creamed’ really means.
Razor cuts a neat little promo with Ray Rougeau, apparently from basketball game, and then comes to the ring. The lack of depth in the company at this point shows in the fact that Razor, who was always a decent enough performer, is number one contender, as wasn’t really considered likely to take the strap from the Hitman.
The place goes wild when Bret comes out, and maybe I’m biased because I’ve always been a huge mark for the Hitman, but I don’t recall too many guys being as over as he was at that time. Even the Rock. Maybe Hogan and Austin, but that’s it.
The match gets underway, with Razor taking the early advantage, but Bret avoids a rush to the turnbuckle, and Razor hurts his knee. Big mistake. See, this is why I loved Bret, because everything he did made sense. He systematically begins to pound on Ramon’s knee, using a figure four, the ring post, the ropes, kicks, leg whips, a whole manner of offense. All for a reason.
Razor changes momentum, and the psychology of the match increases further as Bret takes a stiff looking bump to the ribs on the ring post having gone underneath the turnbuckles. Razor then begins to pound on the lower back.
Interesting to see Razor to get a 2-count and complain to the official. As champion, it must be nice for Bret to know he can trust the referee, who in this case is.........Earl Hebner. Er, ok then. Ten years, and I’m still bitter. That’s right.
Bret fights back, throwing Razor to the outside then diving on top of him. He plays the plucky babyface for a bit, throwing a series of rights, and then starts his little series of moves leading to his finisher. Atomic drop, clothesline, Backbreaker, Russian Leg Sweep, Bulldog. The beauty of it all is that he sells his own injury while doing all this.
Sharpshooter attempt countered by virtue of the ref getting ‘inadvertently’ pulled on top of Bret, breaking the hold. Ooh, those dastardly Hebners. Razor gains the upper hand, but Bret with a fantastic counter series of moves into a back suplex. Razor back on top, and signals for the Razor’s Edge, but Bret counters into a backslide.
Ramon back on top as the pendulum swings again, and while this isn’t a classic, the ride you are taken on by virtue of the psychology is superb. Bret counters another Razor Ramon power move into a very innovative pinning combination, and while both men are lying on the deck, applies the Sharpshooter, reminiscent of his famous match with Mr Perfect at Summerslam 1991.
Cracking title match, although you never really felt that this was to be Scott Hall’s first title.
Next up, Bobby Heenan unveils the Narcissist. He’d been talking about this guy for about a month, without naming names. When the unveiling took place, and Heenan revealed it was Lex Luger, the reaction was........almost non-existent.
Now I love Heenan’s commentary, he is undoubtedly the best colour guy ever, but his fawning over Luger was a bit embarrassing. Anyway, Luger cuts a passionless promo about Mr Perfect, who Bobby Heenan was in a tussle with at the time. I’ve never understood why Luger stayed near the top of companies for so long. Good lord that was dull.
From the Narcissist of Greek Mythology to Ancient Rome, and here are Caesar and Cleopatra. OK then. You see, Wrestlemania was at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas that year, so some dude in a Toga had to waffle on about stuff for 3 minutes. Very boring and pointless. Still more interesting than Luger though.
Rumble time, and number one is.............Ric Flair.
Bobby Heenan asserts confidence in the fact Flair can still win, which is obviously a death knell. The fact that he’d already signed with WCW at this point stood against him too.
Bob Backlund was number two, and got nothing. No music, not reaction, nothing. He was 43 at the time, and he’d be champion again within two years.
Papa Shango, early incaranate of The Godfather Charles Wright, and source of many childhood nightmares is in at 3, but lasts seconds before Flair dumps him.
Gorilla then does another classic piece of telegraphing, reminding us that when Backlund was WWF champion previously, he did some major feats of endurance. So basically you are saying he’d be able to stay in the Rumble for a long time, right? Thanks Gorillia, much appreciated.
I love the fact that they are playing up the fact that Backlund is 43 – wow, that’s so old, they seem to say. Ric Flair, by contrast was........just short of his 44th birthday. A spring chicken if ever there was one.
In at 4 is Ted DiBiase, and 5 is Brian Knobbs of the Nasty Boys. Now the Nastys got booed last year, and cheered this, so I suppose they must have had a face turn in between times. Gorilla informs us that the Nastys are feuding with Money Inc, which is DiBiase and IRS. Thanks. Knobbs nearly eliminates Flair, and gives Ted a Pit Stop (if you don’t know, you don’t want to).
Virgil is out next, and of course gets straight into it with The Million Dollar Man, who evicts Knobbs. So to speak.
Jerry Lawler is number 7, and Heenan tells us that he is the host of WWF Superstars. Lawler has done pretty well to still be quite a good broadcaster consider he’s been around for the best part of 15 years.
Max Moon is next, and I guess that might need an explanation. Max Moon was supposed to be a futuristic spaceman kind of character, and it was originally played by the man known as Konnan now. However, he had a dispute and left, so Paul Diamond (who I referenced as Cato in the 1992 review) took over. I don’t know which one played Max on this occasion. Anyway, the character sucked, and so badly that I haven’t even finished this paragraph and he’s gone.
As Moon got eliminated, Japanese superstar Tenryu entered, cueing up a Heenan classic. A reverse knife edge exchange with Flair led to Monsoon saying that Tenryu’s were better. Heenan: “How do you think they get the term Chop Suey?” Slightly racist, perhaps, but very funny.
Mr Perfect Curt Hennig is number 10, and of course heads straight for Flair. The focus is purely on these two for the whole two minutes that precede Skinner’s entry.
Soon after, Perfect eliminates Flair, and would go on to beat him in a Career match the following night on Raw.
Koko B Ware is out here now, and another borderline racist moment from Heenan, as he greets Koko’s arrival with “Someone call a cab?” Sorry if that offends you, but that Heenan cracks me up.
Perfect watches an impressive feat of athleticism by Skinner and rewards the Alligator man by dropkicking him out of the contest.
13 is a not at all racist gimmick of a bloodthirsty Samoan savage (thank God they don’t do that any more) and it’s Samu, one half of the Headshrinkers.
The Berserker is out next. You know that guy had such a great look, and I honesty think it he came along now he’d do really well. I didn’t say it would interesting, but he’d get a push.
Perfect eliminates Lawler, and then is thrown over the top himself, although it takes Lawler to help rid the ring of him.
Looking at the ring, it is now seriously devoid of star power, so it must be time for........The Undertaker. Tenryu and Samu are gone in quick succession, while Berseker slams Backlund on the concrete. You’ll see why in a minute.
Terry “Don’t call me Red Rooster” Taylor is next in, and is thrown by DiBiase at the same time as Koko. Taker throws the Million Dollar man, and gets to work on the Berserker, when you see the crowd look to the aisle.
The camera (from a great low angle shot) shows a gigantic man (who we would find out later was called Giant Gonzales) accompanied by Harvey Wippleman. Not an official entry in the Rumble, he enters the ring after Taker drops Berserker, and clubs Taker. The Giant eliminates Taker, then systematically destroys the Deadman, including using Taker’s own Goozle.
I want to note, for the record, as I have never really had the chance, that although Gonzales was one of the worst wrestlers of all time, I think his debut was one of the best. He looked enormous, got instant heat and shocked the audience because of his domination of the Undertaker. Mainly, though, the commentators did an awesome job of selling him. Absolutely brilliant. They explained about Wippleman’s past involvement with Kamala and how the Undertaker destroyed him.Eventually Paul Bearer came down to use the urn to revive Taker, and he went to the back. The feud was abysmal after that, but the opening was a belter.
After Taker is gone, we are left with Backlund being beaten down by IRS and Damian Demento (I’d forgotten him too) before Tatanka makes the save. Watching this may remind you that Tatanka was big-time over at the time. By the way, now you know why Berserker slammed Backlund outside, because they didn’t want him eliminated but if he had stayed in the ring, he’d have been slung by Taker or destroyed by Gonzales.
The other Nasty Boy (Janet Jackson’s favourite tag team) is in now, and of course goes for IRS. Some good continuity happening here. Big Typhoon is out now, also getting cheered, so another face turn in the last 12 months has taken place, and I notice that his singlet has a picture of a tidal wave on it. Which isn’t a Typhoon. That’s a Tsunami, surely. Maybe there was confusion about Tsunamis spreading Typhoid. I don’t know.
While I’m talking crap, Fatu is out here, and yes that is Junior Fatu AKA Rikishi, famed for his role as the Sultan. Or maybe not.
At this point you can look at the ring and realise that star power is truly lacking. Any form of logic tells you that with the winner facing the champ at Mania, realistically of the guys that have entered so far, it could only be Taker, Flair or Perfect, and they are all gone. So the tension was lost because it could only really be Yoko or Savage to win.
Earthquake and went straight to Typhoon, which made zero sense, because those two could have dominated all before them, then duked it out, but no, that would logical, so they fought each other instead .
I’ve lost count now, so number blank comes out now, and it’s Carlos Colon, father of current/former WWE wrestler Carlito. Monsoon calls him a youngster. Colon was 47 at the time. Makes Backlund and Flair look like young pups.
Tito Santana is next, and as he pounds on Earthquake, Backlund eliminates Fatu. I’m not sure if I hear it properly, and I’ve never noticed it before, but it sounds very much like a ‘we want Hulk’ chant. Sadists.
Rick Martel follows his former Strike Force partner, and these two get straight into it, and as they do, Quake throws out IRS.
Tito nearly eliminates Backlund, and the crowd scream for him to hang on. Not bad considering he got no reaction at all when he entered.
A Japanese flag poking through the curtain foreshadows the next entrant, and it a sumo wrestler who looks a lot like a Samoan. He slings Tatanka, and then Colon, before Earthquakes faces him up. As Quake clotheslines away, Owen Hart is the next man in.
Quake misses an Avalanche (I’m not getting my disasters confused, that’s the name of the move) and gets heaved over by Yokozuna.
Repo man comes out and runs straight into Yoko, who is clearly the story of the Rumble now. Everyone gangs up on Yoko, in much the same way was they used to do to Andre, but Yoko fights them all off.
Next out is the only other man who could win this, Randy Savage. He goes to work on Repo while Santana is next eliminated. A big drop kick by Owen Hart ousts Sags, and the Rocket escapes being slung by the Model, but is soon removed by Yokozuna.
Repo Man leaves the scene thanks to Savage, and its down to Martel, Savage, Yokozuna and Backlund. That must be all, because I’m sure it’s been more than two minutes since Savage came in.
Backlund is announced at 61 minutes in the match, and Heenan again expresses surprise at Bob’s age. Hell, Michaels and Undertaker now are 42. Backlund rids the ring of Martel, then gets the attention of Yokozuna. Brilliantly, as the time ticks past the moment where he breaks the record Backlund throws dropkicks to unsettle the big man, but then gets unceremoniously thrown out.
Down to just Savage and Yoko, and as Mr Fuji waves the Japanese flag at ringside, Yoko shouts Samoa into a camera. Nothing like a bit of nationalism.
Savage plays a great role of babyface in peril, and becomes the first person to knock Yokozuna off his feet. Thinking clearly, Savage drops his patented elbow from the top, and covers Yoko. Seriously, he covered him. In an over the top battle royal, he covered a 560-pound man. Hmm, logical.
Heenan says he is not leaving until the Royal Rumble is over. Good, considering that’s his job, but presumably, somewhere, Bill Watts is smiling.
Anyway, from a lying down position, Yoko manages to throw the Macho Man all the way over the top rope. Yokozuna is then led to the back by the Romans as we go to highlights of the show.
This is one of my favourite early Rumbles, because I think the wrestling pre Rumble is strong; with great stories told in both IC and WWF title matches, and a reasonably busy Rumble match itself. Perhaps it’s a little predictable as to how would win it, but as something you can go back and watch, its fun to watch a Rumble as it used to be. They are very overbooked these days.
Monday, 14 January 2008